You Can Register To Vote At Some Upcoming Concerts in Metro Phoenix

Those of us who grew up watching MTV in the '90s will no doubt remember Rock The Vote’s push to get young adults out to the polling places.

Flash forward to the present: Despite the fact that young voters were a key factor in getting Barack Obama elected in 2008, it’s still incredibly difficult to get them to the polls. 

And in Arizona, October 10 is the final day you can register for the 2016 election.

The nonpartisan organization HeadCount is trying to fix the problem of low voter turnout. Popping up at concerts all around the country, they’ve been registering young voters and letting them know what they can do to make their political voices heard. These past two years in Arizona, the organization says it has registered 896 voters. 

For the past 12 years, HeadCount has worked directly with musicians and their fans both through social media and in person, encouraging people to get involved in the election process. They have 15,000 volunteers all around the country registering voters, informing people about what’s on their ballots, and making sure everyone knows where their polling place is. In this election cycle alone, they’ve registered nearly 100,000 voters and will continue working past the registration deadlines to increase that number.

In the past, they’ve had quite a bit of support from local promoters in Phoenix, and will be popping up at upcoming concerts in the area to register new voters. Though they can’t attend every show, artists on their roster such as Dr. Dog, the Grateful Dead, Kurt Vile, War On Drugs, Animal Collective, Death Cab For Cutie, Wavves, Dispatch, Amanda Palmer, the Roots, Jay Z, and Pearl Jam, to name just a few, are sharing their information while on tour and are well aware of the importance of a high young voter turnout in an election cycle.

A common thought, and not just among young adults, is that voting doesn’t make a difference. It’s hard to fault anyone for their skepticism, especially after the March primaries in Maricopa County. Many voters waited in line for hours at their polling places, only to be turned away for inexplicable reasons. The frustration is warranted; however, Andy Bernstein, one of HeadCount’s founders is still very adamant about the power voters have.

“The problems in Arizona were something that made national news," Bernstein says. "The good news is that people were paying attention, really cared about those problems, and took it seriously. But if you don’t vote, the other side has already won, whatever the other side is. Whoever you disagree with is probably voting. There’s a lot of challenges, a lot of things about our political system that are downright broken. But if the people who want to fix it disengage, then they will stay broken.”

In addition to issues on a national level, HeadCount is also focused on the importance of getting people involved in local politics. Volunteers around the country are educated on their local initiatives and referendums. Bernstein told us, “That’s the kind of thing people aren’t always aware of. Most people just hear Trump or Clinton. We want to have conversations with people about what’s really going on in their community. We think, particularly among young people, it can be a key driver. There are a lot of issues people are really passionate about and might not realize that this election can be a chance to make their voices heard, depending on what’s on their ballot locally.”

HeadCount doesn’t see the younger demographic as apathetic, but does see the need to open up a dialogue. Through conversations on issues such as volunteerism, political activism, sustainable living, and community building, their hope is that the demographic will feel aligned with artists they love and feel empowered to go out and vote.

You can connect with HeadCount at these upcoming concerts:

10/6/2016 - Chvrches, Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe,
10/15/2016 - Drive-By Truckers, Livewire, 7320 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
10/29/2016 - Death From Above 1979 / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe

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